Translating ‘depression’ first order of business for Commission’s new young Advisory Board member

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation is excited to acknowledge the appointment of headspace National Youth Reference Group member, Niharika Hiremath to the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board.

Twenty-four year old, Niharika plays a vital role on the headspace National Youth Reference Group to ensure that the voices of young people are included in the development of new mental health initiatives.

Recognised for the skills she’s developed working with headspace, Niharika, alongside two other members have been appointed to the Advisory Board for their experience in leading, collaborating, advising and reporting in aspects of mental health and suicide prevention.

The National Mental Health Commission works across all areas that promote mental health and prevent suicide, not only in health but related areas such as education, housing, employment, human services and social services.

Niharika’s lived experience with mental illness led to her current position as an advocate for the education and reduction of stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly in ethnically diverse communities.

Niharika Hiremath hyNRG

“I grew up in a conservative Indian family and separate to dealing with my mental illness, a big challenge for me was helping my family understand what I was going through. This isn’t an isolated incident. I can see that there’s obvious challenges for young people from CALD communities because words like ‘depression’ often don’t exist in their native language. Work still needs to be done to bridge this divide and ensure CALD communities, particularly families of those young people struggling with mental health, can have honest and open conversations about what they’re going through.

“Talking about your emotions and having conversations about your mental health is the first step. This isn’t big in my culture so I had to learn for myself first and then worked my family, and I’m grateful headspace was a safe place that I could go to get support. Working with headspace gave me tools to help educate my family about mental health. Sitting where I am now I can see how hard dealing with my mental health must’ve been for my family because there was this clear lack of knowledge, awareness and tools available to help,” she said.

Niharika has a passion for youth mental health and says her focus has always been to support the demographics in Australia that don’t readily access services such as headspace.

“My long-term goal is to develop evidence based resources that are contextually relevant for diverse communities and work with organisations to break down clinical resources to make them clear and accessible for diverse backgrounds,” she said.

Niharika said she is excited and humbled to have the opportunity to give diverse youth even more of a voice in the Australian community.

“Being part of the headspace National Youth Reference Group has been amazing so the fact that I can now take the skills I’ve developed both here and in my personal life onto the Advisory Board of the National Mental Health Commission is a great honour,” she said.

headspace knows young people are experts in their own lives and are able to inform the youth mental health sector in order to help reduce stigma and promote help-seeking within their peers.